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effectively blends black comedy, character-driven drama and action movie
Woody Harrelson stars as Defendor in a new indie film dealing with the subject of "everyman" superheroism. Peter Stebbing's film is a refreshment of the genre rather than a reinvention as the same theme of self-appointed superheroes has been tackled earlier in such films as John Ritter's Hero At Large or last year's Watchmen. Stebbings seems to be aware of this fact having no problems with a somewhat awkward, but totally relatable tone. He effectively blends black comedy, character-driven drama and action movie. His script is a shrewdly multi-layered one: part a compassionate character study, part "one man can make a difference" story. The acting is yet another high point. Harrelson plays the character as proud, hurt, confused, and furious, yet still remains perfectly authentic. Kat Dennings as a wounded runaway that supports our hero is also very believable. In the end though, Defendor seems far less than the sum of its parts largely due to the film's small scale not letting it fly high as well as less-than-spectacular ending. Despite this, Defendor is still one to see. 7.5/10 (B)
a refreshingly funny and wickedly entertaining spectacle that warrants the whole franchise of masked teenagers to come
Aptly titled Kick-Ass is an excellent comic book adaptation that proves that there is no stagnation in a superhero genre whatsoever. Based on Mark Millar's violent tale Kick-Ass is directed by Matthew Vaughn, the filmmaker who happens to have a real knack for both action movies (Layer Cake) and teen fantasies (Stardust). It's more than evident in Kick-Ass and although the film has some problems with selecting the proper tone: it verges between campy comedy, dramatic piece and action spectacle, this is a gripping ride from start to finish.
Vaughn's direction is nothing less than clever and kinetic. By employing video game techniques inspired by Shoot 'Em Up and Crank movies, Vaughn really excels at showing highly-stylized bloody violence on screen. As for the script, the main concept of an ordinary teenager who chooses to become a superhero is downright effective evoking loads of laughs and our sympathy. Aaron Johnson's cool, unrestrained performance also helps a great deal.
The film revitalizes the genre by undermining its rules. The characters involved have no special powers, most of them, no necessary backstory and no turning point that resulted in them becoming superheroes, much like in Watchmen. Despite this, the movie establishes its own pantheon of heroes and the director knows that there's nothing more fascinating than the battle between good and evil shown in a vivid, exciting fashion.
What's controversial about the film is the extensive use of pitch-black humor including the character of 11-year-old Mindy McReady aka Hit-Girl who has been trained from the early years to become a killing machine by her loving father aka Big Daddy. The whole subplot may be immoral for some who don't understand this kind of cinema, yet it's surprisingly plausible due to a tongue-in-cheek writing and acting talents of Chloe Moretz and Nicolas Cage who are as subversive in their respective parts as you can get. Last but not least, the artist formerly known as McLovin' channels a wannabe villain named Red Mist. You may be actually surprised by how smart he is in his plotting.
Overall, Kick-Ass is a refreshingly funny and wickedly entertaining spectacle that warrants the whole franchise of masked teenagers to come. 9/10 (A-)
Harry Brown (2009)
focused, raw and character-driven
It took Michael Caine almost 40 years to come back as an avenger. Get Carter from 1971 was a gripping thriller that benefited from Caine's vivid performance a great deal, Harry Brown does exactly the same. Caine plays his character like he was a retired Jack Carter providing welcome pathos along with charisma and dry wit. There is more to like about Harry Brown aside from Caine's tour-de-force performance though. Daniel Barber's crime thriller is focused, raw and character-driven. The cinematography happens to be stylish and the climax abounding with nail-biting suspense is the movie's high point. Even if Harry Brown doesn't entirely avoid clichés as well as revenge movie trappings, it feels very much in line with more distinguishable films of its kind.
The Slammin' Salmon (2009)
very funny from start to finish
The filmography of The Broken Lizard comedy troupe is very much hit-or-miss. Their latest restaurant comedy The Slammin's Salmon is one of the troupe's true wins. Kevin Heffernan directs this heated contest at a high-profile Miami restaurant whose aim is to try to earn sufficient money to save the restaurant being used to pay off a gambling debt. Obviously, The Slammin' Salmon is not going to win any awards for creativity, yet the film has what it counts the most in comedies: it's very funny from start to finish. Similarly to Super Troopers and Beerfest, the humor can be described as situational and while some set-ups result in predictable outcomes, the majority of jokes is quite clever leading to even bigger laughs by the end. The characters are diverse enough to surprise us displaying near-perfect comic timing. Michael Clarke Duncan starring as an overbearing chief is a standout. His performance is so over-the-top that virtually irresistible. I wish every comedy was so immediate and apt in delivering laughs as The Slammin' Salmon. 7.5/10 (B)
filled with the feelings of isolation and paranoia
Giving birth to a child is usually regarded as blessing. What if our beloved child is not interested in eating mother's milk, but prefers a solid portion of fresh blood? The answer to this question provides the amazing debut of Paul Solet entitled "Grace". The movie can be best described as a disturbing meditation on the unbreakable relation between mother and child. Steering clear of horror genre conventions, Solet's movie is firmly based on reality providing truly visceral scares out of the unusual, yet intriguing concept. Filled with the feelings of isolation and paranoia, "Grace" is incredibly effective and up to the point avoiding any unnecessary scenes which could distract viewers' attention from the main story. The movie feels like an undiscovered classic of genre cinema that mostly relies on creepy atmosphere, not unlike Roman Polanski's "Rosemary's Baby". I'm looking forward to whatever Paul Solet has in store next.
Shutter Island (2010)
undone by its lazy, messy and full of its own importance script
The latest picture from Martin Scorsese ranks among his worst. Shutter Island tries to be an engrossing mystery, but the movie is just undone by its lazy, messy and full of its own importance script. A somewhat reasonable concept gets lost in an abundance of surrealism and nonsense. Both director and leading actor Leonardo DiCaprio aren't really at the top of their game. The latter just wanders around the island trying to reveal the conspiracy and meeting strange characters whose talk is puzzling and fractured. What's even worse, less than half way through it becomes apparent that the film can only resolve in one way enabling its used-to-death twist to enliven and assure viewers that the film makes no sense whatsoever. It's only a shame that the actors involved are respectable. Another reason why this film is a misfire is that it doesn't really try to be grounded in reality of any kind. It resembles an artificial construct, sadly not very exciting to watch.
Drag Me to Hell (2009)
campy, gruesome, frenetic and most of all supremely entertaining
"Drag Me To Hell" finds director Sam Raimi coming back to his own roots. The movie is reminiscent of his cult Evil Dead series. Although it is not as amazing as "Evil Dead II", it still delivers a well-balanced combination of horror and comedy Raimi is famous for. After her unwillingness to help an old gypsy woman, Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) experiences the unusual attack from the angry witch casting a spell on her. The movie oscillates between a supernatural horror and a farce making for an inventive, yet totally amusing thrill ride. Even though the ending happens to be predictable, "Drag Me To Hell" never fails to capture attention with its tour de force scenes depicting violent attacks of evil forces. The movie is campy, gruesome, frenetic and most of all supremely entertaining.
Up in the Air (2009)
smarter than your average dramedy
While it doesn't achieve the status of masterpiece, this is another very solid dramedy from Jason Reitman, a gifted filmmaker who proves not to be overshadowed by his father's persona any more. Up In The Air is far from being hysterically funny, yet its clever script happens to be timely due to the economical crisis. Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is one of the top employees of the agency that dismisses people. Thus, he is always on the run flying to different parts of the US. During the course of time he meets two women who are about to change his viewpoint on becoming involved in the romantic relationship. The story is fluidly told and never ceases to be gripping. Reitman superbly balances the two subplots concerning dismissing people and Ryan's affair building to the climax that involves a surprising, well-calculated twist. George Clooney is graceful, if slightly underwhelming delivering some over-intelectualized lines even through voice-over. Once he gets criticized for it by his new co-worker Natalie Keener played by splendid Anna Kendrick. Both she and Vera Farmiga as Clooney's love interest are both amazing displaying unique characters with totally distinct features. Although Reitman's direction is always compelling, he still overuses sloppy indie music I dislike so much. Overall, Up In The Air lacks the edge and controversy to be classic in my view. It's still way smarter than your average dramedy.
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
a bit unsure of what it wants to be, but in the end you can't help enjoying this ridiculous hybrid of a movie
It's a totally unhinged fantasy on the events of World War II, a provocative film that uses the serious theme of war to tell the story by means of exploitation cinema to the point that I can imagine some people really insulted by it. "Inglorious Basterds" isn't a one-sided affair though as it can't be classified as a pure action B-movie. It's a more complicated flick than that blending ideological cinema with a suspenseful thriller mostly relying on the clever dialogue. There are moments in the movie when these overall three different aspects don't gel together very well. Largely inconsistent tone of the movie is more than redeemed by gripping, cringe-inducing sequences often involving Christoph Waltz in a star-making turn as contradiction-driven Col. Hans Landa. He even steals the show from supremely over-the-top Brad Pitt. It's a shame that masterly executed single scenes don't result in an equally superb movie. "Inglorious Basterds" is a bit unsure of what it wants to be, but in the end you can't help enjoying this ridiculous hybrid of a movie.
I Love You, Man (2009)
abounds with hilarious social observations and funny, yet authentic dialogue
"I Love You, Man" is a hilarious comedy composed of all too familiar elements. However, instead of focusing on a conventional inter-gender relationship, it deals with male bonding complete with its challenges and rewards. Paul Rudd stars as Peter Klaven, a real estate agent who is about to marry soon. When he realizes he doesn't have any real friend to be his best man during the wedding, he starts his quest for platonic man-love. After many failed endevours, he meets Sydney Fife (Jason Segel) who happens to have the perfect traits to be his friend for life. This is not a Judd Apatow movie, but on the whole it feels like one. Witer/director John Hamburg and co-writer Larry Levine combine physical humour with hilarious social observations and funny, yet authentic dialogue. They don't forget to spice the flick with some pop-culture references which involve Hulk from the TV series, Lou Ferringo and the adoration of both characters for prog-rock legends Rush (!). Besides, the movie is very well paced delivering just enough laughs that are perfectly grounded in reality and so immensely relatable. "I Love You, Man" can also be characterized by means of its amazing central performances. Paul Rudd approaches anxiety and social awkwardness with deadpan delivery, while Jason Segel strikes the right mark with his cool, goofy and irresistibly charismatic character without ever being too silly or cartoonish.
Big Fan (2009)
a profound and thoroughly remarkable character study marked by a magnetic performance of Patton Oswalt
Big Fan stands as a profound and thoroughly remarkable character study marked by a magnetic performance of Patton Oswalt. He excels as Paul Aufiero, a life-long fan of New York Giants being brutally hit by one of Giants' top players in a strip club. Oswalt is equally sympathetic and believable starring as this deeply troubled character. His performance is the chief, but thankfully not the only reason to see Big Fan. Writer-director Robert Siegel regards the sports fanaticism as an addiction and that gives his film the necessary gravitas: its power and its credibility. The script is devoid of clichés with many well-observed situations thrown in and several ingenious twists you won't see coming. As a result, you observe Paul falling into decay with great anxiety combined with care. Siegel crafts a subversive comedy, funny and bleak in equal measures. It also works as a peculiar take on the pathology of sports mania.
a nearly flawless attempt at visualizing an outstanding novel
The movie is set in 1980s alternate reality when the position of superheroes is decreasing and a serious possibility of atomic war with Russia emerges. This is a fascinating, multi-layered story benefiting from more than stellar Snyder's direction. With the aid of cinematographer Larry Fong, he captures the unique style of the graphic novel. The movie looks mindblowing being perfectly staged and conceived. There are plenty of captivating slo-mo fight sequences that along with graphic violence are Snyder's trademark. The opening montage is especially unforgettable. Snyder also illustrates some crucial scenes with songs that work as brilliant pop-culture references. The performances are often spot-on with Jackie Earle Haley totally nailing the multi-dimensional psyche of Rorschach and Patrick Wilson who's great displaying more confident version of Nite Owl II. Overall, "Watchmen" is a nearly flawless attempt at visualizing an outstanding novel, it's an appropriately complex, brutal, and dark spectacle.
Trick 'r Treat (2007)
a truly remarkable horror film soon to be regarded as a Halloween classic
If there's one thing I will never understand about movie business is the policy of studios refusing to release such gems as Trick 'r Treat for years in favor of obviously lesser efforts. Unjustly shut down by Warner, Mike Dougherty's impressive feature debut follows a number of different characters during a single Halloween night. The four interweaving stories are marked by the presence of Sam, a creepy kid who wears an iconic mask and delivers his own brand of mayhem. Trick 'r Treat isn't centered on graphic violence being a recent fad. Instead, it uses skillfully built tension and gallons of black humor to scare viewers. With this approach, the movie resembles Creepshow and the greatest episodes of Tales from the Crypt. Every sinister aspect of Halloween is explored through lavishly detailed set pieces, marvelous costumes, highly stylized cinematography and wonderfully orchestrated music. Trick 'r Treat not only thrives on its Gothic production values, but is also deftly scripted giving way to trickery, pitch-black humor and unexpected twists of faith. It's visible that Daugherty superbly understands this kind of cinema as his direction never fails to be haunting. Overall, Trick 'r Treat is a truly remarkable horror film soon to be regarded as a Halloween classic.
a cleverly provocative horror movie that only strengthens the position of France in this field
At first glance, Pascal Laugier's movie seems to be a revenge story dealing with a woman attempting at killing the people who kidnapped and tormented her as a child in order to get rid of an imaginary demon that is chasing her till that time. However, the movie alters as quickly as it is starting to focus on her female friend who experiences all the atrocities her best friend commits in the name of peace and quiet. The second half of the movie is twisted in the sickest way possible when... (no I won't reveal the main turn) Martyrs is one of the sickest and most disturbing movies I have seen, but its numbing violence is not used only to shock, but also to provide a fascinating insight into the people's voyeuristic nature. Moreover, it tries to explain the tragic events taking place in the film in a painfully rational manner. Given this, Martyrs is a slickly executed, effective movie with amazingly intense gory first half (containing some amazing scenes) and slow, devastating second one. It is certainly not for the squeamish, but I guarantee that those who dare to try it out will not regret. This is a cleverly provocative horror movie that only strengthens the position of France in this field.
Crank: High Voltage (2009)
shows the middle finger to all those glossy, restrained pieces of film-making
Crank High Voltage continues the series of over-the-top action movies starring Jason Statham as an indestructible hit-man, Chev Chelios. If you like the first installment, you will certainly enjoy this one as it retains the chaotic, clunky style, high-octane action and perverse humor of the original. What's more, directors/writers Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor top themselves creating even more ridiculous, sexist and profane action flick with every other scene more absurd than the previous one. Their imagination seems to have no limits whatsoever: they even include some cool unexpected interludes into the movie. Being incredibly inventive, Crank High Voltage works as a highly entertaining parody of the genre that literally (the ending) shows the middle finger to all those glossy, restrained pieces of film-making that are called action movies these days. Obviously, it's an exploitation flick through and through that has perhaps more in common with Bugs Bunny cartoons than your traditional action film, but such an intense and wicked ride it offers should not be missed by any open-minded fan of the genre.
Star Trek (2009)
a sci-fi adventure movie at its peak
My opinion on the new "Star Trek" doesn't really differ from the general one. J.J. Abrams succeeded in making a reboot that's both fresh and respectful to its source material. He didn't experiment with the new technologies or complex narrative, but conveyed the dynamic, yet totally comprehensible storyline intersected by numerous allusions to the old series. You don't need to be a trekkie to fully enjoy this movie that can be described as humorous, fast-paced and universally gripping. The action sequences are never less than awe-inspiring. The transformation of James T. Kirk is entirely believable and unforced. Chris Payne is great in this role, just as practically everyone from the distinguishable supporting cast. "Star Trek" can be considered a sci-fi adventure movie at its peak, still it lacks certain kind of depth and emotion to be truly remarkable for me. Nevertheless, it's without any trace of doubt an essential viewing even for people who have not been particularly interested in this saga before.
An Education (2009)
rightfully stands as one of the high profile films of the year
An Education directed by Lone Scherfig tells the story about Jenny (Carey Mulligan), a young woman full of promise and intent to study at Oxford. But meeting an older distinguished man (Peter Sarsgaard) leads Jenny to believe that she can learn things outside the classroom, casting doubt on her future plans. It looks like a plot of promising porn movie at first, but An Education is the polar opposite: it is an elegant coming-of-age drama marked by the powerful performances from the entire cast and an overall strong writing by Nick Hornby. The resolution along with the message is quite predictable, yet Hornby manages to make almost every twist and turn engrossing throwing in easily relatable observations. His wise script happens to be the film's main asset aside from the acting. Carey Mulligan just sinks in her role displaying the sense of naivety combined with wonderment this character needed so much. Peter Sarsgaard makes us fall for his ominously neutral, yet charming character. Also, Alfred Molina is outstanding as Jenny's caring father. An Education rightfully stands as one of the high profile films of the year. In this case the movie's glamorous style never overshadows its substance.
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
a great story abounding with odd comedic touches and a spark of melodrama thrown inbetween
Don't even try to deny that 2009 was the year of animation. This is another great animated movie that happens to invigorate its director's career. Based on Roald Dahl's classic, Fantastic Mr. Fox infiltrates Wes Anderson's trademark quirky blend of humor into a gripping narrative. While the material might be too snarky and sophisticated for children, adults should enjoy Anderson's refreshing approach. The movie's look is pleasantly off-beat, yet imaginative with superbly designed characters and sweet ingenious action pieces. The truly extraordinary world created on screen is incredibly detailed and resonates with Anderson's style very well. Apart from being a sheer delight to watch, Fantastic Mr. Fox stands as a great story abounding with odd comedic touches and a spark of melodrama thrown inbetween. It's definitely a good combination in a movie that is so unique that just needs to be seen once again.
A Serious Man (2009)
an admirably vicious dark comedy that ranks among Coens' strongest entries
You'll be ill-advised if you're expecting a feel good movie from Coen brothers. In A Serious Man once again they don't give a damn whether you're going to like it or not. The film tells the story of Larry Gopnik, a Jewish physics professor who struggles with his numerous problems that not only concern his family life. His vicissitudes are unfortunate to the point of tragic, yet Coens are able to find plenty of pitch-black humor in them. Their very observational and witty script has no limits with oddly hilarious prologue and many ingenious fantasy sequences depicting Larry's increasingly poor state of mind. This very personal tone of the story never feels sentimental with Coens freely exploring such supposedly distinct themes as faith, academia and dental phenomena. The film also benefits from stylish cinematography, superb set design and strong acting from the entire cast. Michael Stuhlbarg is amazing in the leading role providing his character with equal doses of intelligence, uncertainty and hopelessness. The whole movie practically belongs to his sympathetic portrayal of Larry. Overall, A Serious Man is an admirably vicious dark comedy that ranks among Coens' strongest entries.
Anvil: The Story of Anvil (2008)
surprisingly tender, yet far from glorifying
"Anvil! The Story of Anvil" is a rock documentary that focuses on an extremely influential, yet now totally obscure, Canadian speed trash metal band. That's the story of Steve "Lips" Kudlow who teamed up with his high school buddy Robb Reiner in 1973. By the early 1980s they recorded their seminal album "Metal on metal" and toured along with Scorpions, Witesnake and Bon Jovi in Japan. They were to become famous like their peers, yet something didn't work out as Lemmy of Motorhead aptly put it: "sometimes, you have to be in the right place at the right time". 25 years later the two band members live like ordinary people providing for their families through hard work. Director Sacha Gervasi is a long-time fan of the band who has crafted a motion picture that goes from funny (the archival footage of the band) to realistically sincere and poignant (the band's constant struggle with elements out of their control). The movie rings true throughout depicting the band dealing with numerous challenging situations which include: the organizational problems on their European tour, the discord between Kudlow and Reiner while recording their 13th album and the lack of the proper record label which would release their cd. At this point, the movie gets far more universal as it deals with the situation of numerous under-appreciated outfits in the cruel music business. Gervasi never lets things go too dark though retaining the joyous, almost celebral tone of the movie. In a nutshell, "Anvil!" is about never giving up one's dreams no matter what. Garvasi's love letter to the band is surprisingly tender, yet far from glorifying.
The Hangover (2009)
delivers more than enough laughs by keeping the comic tension tight all the way through
The Hangover takes a standard premise and turns it into a hilarious comedy that combines raunchy humor with "what's going to be next" mystery. After the crazy bachelor party, the three guys can't remember virtually anything about what actually has happened and where the groom can be. This simple concept appears to be very productive and the team of screenwriters squeezes all the juice out of it providing plenty of laugh-out-loud scenes. The humor not only stems from frequently absurd situations the guys come across, but also their mostly hilarious interactions. Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis make for a great comedy trio playing characters of totally different personalities. Phil (Cooper) is a party animal; Stu (Helms) is a pragmatist; and Alan (Galifianakis) seems to live in his own bizarre world. They all bring different elements to the film. Galifianakis is especially hilarious delivering totally unhinged, yet perfectly likable performance. Even though The Hangover is not sufficiently heartfelt or powerful to be a classic in my book, it still delivers more than enough laughs by keeping the comic tension tight all the way through.
Samson and Delilah (2009)
a visually beautiful, yet painfully straightforward portrait of young Aboriginal Australians
Samson And Delilah directed by Warwick Thornton is a visually beautiful, yet painfully straightforward portrait of young Aboriginal Australians risking their lives in an urbanized society. By avoiding the dialogue Thornton crafts an authentic and emotional film that not only meditates on love that never judges, but also showcases tough reality indigenous Australians have to face in the unfair contemporary world. Thornton makes a statement that just cannot be ignored: the clash between the two ways of living is very difficult to overcome and there's still no to little justice for those underprivileged. This bleakly authentic view gives the movie its gravitas transforming the story of love into the story of survival. Non-actors Rowan McNamara and Marissa Gibson don't really perform their roles, but lead the lives of people who have been around them. Their performances happen to be thoroughly authentic in an engrossing manner. Overall, Samson And Delilah is an original, haunting and truthful take on Aboriginal identity that must be seen.
The Hurt Locker (2008)
a suspenseful war movie riddled with sadness and desperation
The Hurt Locker is something of a rarity, feature war movie set in Iraq that actually works, even though it doesn't tell anything new. Director Kathryn Beigelow (Strange Days) conters on a highly trained bomb disposal team amidst violent conflict. Scriptwriter Mark Boal was a member of such a team and although the story is said to be entirely fictional, one can't stop wondering if there are any autobiographical elements. Boal's script is unpredictable and challenging offering many unexpected twists and turns. It doesn't try to tell the story, but presents us only with daily routines of the squad entirely doomed with tragic unpredictability. I've always considered Bigelow as a splendid director. In The Hurt Locker her direction is flawlessly detached when she examines the conflicts between the soldiers and effectively polished when she deals with suspense-ridden sequences. The acting is another highlight. Jeremy Renner as indifferent to death, yet vulnerable Staff Sergeant James gives a complex performance, perhaps the best in his career. Anthony Mackie and Brian Garaghty are totally believable as well. The movie quite effectively shows how the relations between these three soldiers change in the course of time. To conclude, The Hurt Locker is a suspenseful war movie riddled with sadness and desperation. It deserves to be seen.
refreshing, exhilarating and very special
Thanks to Spike Lee, we are finally able to experience one of the very best musicals of the last few years on screen and what a helluva of experience this is. Tony-winning Passing Strange is not your ordinary rock musical as it uses a wide variety of music styles exploring such genres as soulful blues, energetic punk rock, brutal new wave, gospel and cabaret. The force behind this spectacle is Stew, the musician who wrote and co-arranged the whole performance. He is also the narrator displaying his impressive skills especially in singing. Overall, what an amazing guy he is! His partly autobiographical story is universally relatable depicting a young man's struggle for artistic fulfillment. As the main character travels to Europe, Stew spices it with brilliant cultural satire deeply ingrained in history. He steers clear of being oversentimental and often provides us with auto-irony, which is crucial when you want to make people laugh. He even goes as far as to comment on his role as an artist/creator and nails it perfectly building to an ecstatic finale filled with uncontrolled joy. Besides, Passing Strange features superb performances from every single member of the extremely talented cast. Some of them had a difficult task channeling many characters like Colman Domingo, particularly incredible as controversial musician Mr. Venus. I couldn't resist the charms of De'Adre Aziza and Rebecca Jones who appeared to be extremely versatile actresses as well as fabulous singers. Daniel Breaker in a leading role also delivered top-notch performance encompassing the whole range of emotions. Spike Lee's cutting is fast, dynamic and hyper-kinetic to the point that the filmed performance resembles an actual movie. The camera is always in the right place frequently showing sweat on the faces of ideally synchronized performers. To conclude, Passing Strange ranks among the most unforgettable movies I've ever seen. It's refreshing, exhilarating and very special for me.
District 9 (2009)
perfectly conceived sci-fi cinema at its most daring and honest
Part an elusive Apartheid allegory examining sprawling intolerance, part an enthralling transformation story, "District 9" is perfectly conceived sci-fi cinema at its most daring and honest. It's hard to believe this is Neill Blomkamp's first feature film as he utilizes mock documentary approach in such an instantly relatable fashion that we believe in every revelation he pulls off. By showing us what happens to a derelict spacecraft stranded above South Africa, and its extraterrestrial crew forced to live in squalid camps for the last two decades, the first time filmmaker offers the social commentary that just cannot be diminished. Granted. The film is high-on-concept, intelligent and full of hidden messages like cat food being an equivalent of legalized drugs, yet it doesn't shine away from being a thrilling ride abounding with credible, cringe-worthy twists, dazzling action sequences and inventive low-key special effects. When its tone oscillates between darkly comical to deadly serious, the movie never loses its steam remaining wildly kinetic. It's also to Blomkamp's credit that "District 9" is so emotionally resonant all the way through to its poignant finale showcasing both physical and moral transformation of the main character, social worker Wikus Van De Merwe. Newcomer Sharlto Copley provides amazingly complex performance here. Although Wikus tends to act like a complete jerk, he is surprisingly sympathetic when faced with almost unbearable circumstances. Clever and bombastic at the same time, "District 9" is a genuine masterpiece, one of the very best sci-fi movies ever made.